Angelle “Sister” Thornton grew up with a tennis racket in her right hand. Well, almost. Her prowess on the court has landed her a spot on the 2020-2021 Berry College tennis team.
“I started when I was four so I’ve been playing for about 14 years,” Sister said. Her grandfather is legendary local tennis coach Billy Thornton, but she really developed a passion for the game from watching her brother older brother, John John. They both were coached by Misty Lancaster in Cartersville for many years.
Thornton accepted an invitation from Berry College Coach Clay Hightower to join the Viking women’s team this after completing her schooling. It was a dream come true for Thornton.
Thornton played one year at Unity Christian, a year the Lions won a state championship.
While being home schooled, she was able to get in a lot of league and tournament play at the new Rome Tennis Center at Berry College which will be her home court for matches in college.
Home schooling is not a big deal when it comes to advancing to the collegiate game. Many of the top young junior players in the nation spend much of their time on the court and get their classroom instruction online.
Coach Hightower said he had become aware of Thornton through some local tournament play.
“I talked to her and watched her play a little bit and I felt like we had a spot for her,” Hightower said.
“I’ve been wanting to play for Berry College since I was about 8 years old,” she said.
As an NCAA Division III institution, Berry doesn’t actually give athletic scholarships but that didn’t matter to Thornton who was never really interested in going anyplace else.
“They have a great team, Thornton said. Before the season ended last year, the Berry women were 7-2 and had won their last seven matches in a row before the season was abruptly shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Berry women will have at least five of their top six singles players back from last year and could have all six if students are still allowed to be on campus in the spring.
Thornton’s forte has always been singles but she thinks she hopes to have some impact playing doubles this year at Berry.
She considers her forehand her best stroke at this point and is looking forward to improving her game under Coach Hightower.